A novel mechanism for the antibacterial effect of silver nanoparticles on Escherichia coli
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Silver nanoparticles are known to have antimicrobial properties and have been used extensively in medicine, although the mechanism(s) of action have not yet been clearly established. In the present study, the findings suggest a novel mechanism for the antibacterial effect of silver nanoparticles on Escherichia coli, namely, the induction of a bacterial apoptosis-like response. We propose a possible mechanism for the bacterial apoptosis-like response that includes the following: accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) (detected with H2DCFDA staining), increased intracellular calcium levels (detected with Fura-2 AM), phosphatidylserine exposure in the outer membrane (detected with Annexin V) which is the hallmarks of early apoptosis, disruption of the membrane potential [detected with DiBAC4(3)], activation of a bacterial caspase-like protein (detected by FITC-VAD-FMK staining) and DNA degradation (detected with TUNEL assay) which is the hallmarks of late apoptosis in bacterial cells treated with silver nanoparticles. We also performed RecA expression assay with western blotting and observed activation of SOS response to repair the damaged DNA. To summarize, silver nanoparticles are involved in the apoptosis-like response in E. coli and the novel mechanisms which were identified in this study, suggest that silver nanoparticles may be an effective antimicrobial agent with far lower propensity for inducing microbial resistance than antibiotics.
KeywordsSilver nanoparticle Antibacterial effect Bacterial cell death Apoptosis-like response Esherichia coli
This work was supported by a grant from the Next-Generation BioGreen 21 Program (No. PJ008158), Rural Development Administration, Republic of Korea.
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